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Publisher’s Notes: Are you a coco nut?

Hybrid — An eminent agri man Dr. Emil Javier wrote in his recent column on coconut hybrid seed and dwarf varieties to propel back to life our slowly vanishing (or has it vanished already?) coco industry. That’s the way to go. Much needed!

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FVR’s virgin oil — Up to now, former President FVR still pushes for virgin coconut oil (VCO) and his favorite spiel is it boots and enhances male virility.
If you are a coco nut, don’t ask me, please. Ask the Boss. He must know. Or just simply try it yourself!

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Dwarf — I remember I was a member of the governing board of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) sometime in 1990 during President Cory’s time. Businessman Danding Cojuangco ventured into new dwarf coconut varieties then in an island off Palawan. It starts to bear fruit in 2 years
(unlike the traditional variety of at least five years) and doesn’t shoot up into the sky that high. It’s now being grown all over the country.
“Boss” Danding’s legacy to us all!

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Aromatic — I myself started propagating early on the so-called “aromatic” variety that tastes so sweet. A few seeds came from the PCA experimental farm in Mintal, Davao City. I still grow them now in our farm for our Seagull resort customers to enjoy. In case you visit, please do ask for the “aromatic” kind. Then you’ll go nuts! Lol!

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Rebound — Now, I am hearing the good news that the Philippine Coconut Authority is refurbishing the coco industry and put it back as one of the country’s major economic drivers. About time!
Something big though will still have to be done, in addition to re-planting: to keep copra prices attractive to farmers. Otherwise, this effort will just go pfffft!

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Palm oil — I attended recently the ceremonial start-up of a new palm oil mill in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat owned by the Garcia family now skippered by my friend Erwin Garcia.
This will propel further livelihood and employment in the surrounding area, not to mention filling up the lag for our local consumption of palm oil for our industries and homes. I was told we are importing a big volume for our palm oil needs.

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BARMM player — I predict palm oil will be the new major player when the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) gets going. Also cavendish bananas for export will be a main player. There’s so much idle land there now that will be put to good use.
As I always say, and I don’t get tired saying it again and again:
“Peace is not only about peace agreements. It’s equally about improving the lives of people. The nexus of peace and development together!”

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Emerging —If you are a recent visitor of Mindanao, you won’t miss noticing the new landscape emerging in several areas like 6- lane highways, new roads, high rise buildings, new establishments and businesses that provide work and bustling neighborhoods.

I grew up here and have personally seen Mindanao’s transformation from what it was. There are however challenges emerging that must be dealt with. Here are a few:

Safe — Keeping everyone safe is foremost. Making everyone FEEL safe is equally as important. We all know that Mindanao lagged behind due to issues of safety. Terrorism and criminalities troubled our areas for a long time.

I know Mindanao is still bristling with illegally possessed firearms. This is human instinct for self-preservation — to protect oneself and loved ones. A firearm was and still is, a necessity. But when there is relative peace and that many FEEL they are safe, those FAs would be of no use and will just rust away somewhere.

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Work — Livelihood, employment and work are needed even just to meet basic necessities of food, medical care and education. We knew how poverty exacted its toll on all. Poverty as we know, is a main driver of crimes.

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Weather — The inevitable curse of radically changing patterns of the weather (a.k.a. climate change ) is upon us now. Waters in rivers and streams are dwindling. And when it rains, it pours. And floods. We cannot stop this. But we can all help mitigate.

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Power — Lack of electricity and sustainable source of power is upon us. Water levels are depleted. Even the mighty Lake Lanao that propels power is no longer reliable. We need more power plants.
And yes, although still more expensive than fossil-fuel fired, renewables like solar power is the future.

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DOE & ERC — I now see a new emerging and welcome trend in the Department of Energy under Secretary Al Cusi. The same is true at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) under Chair Agnes Devenadera.

(Remember her? She was Justice Secretary with whom I partnered in handling the so-called Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao then under Pres GMA).

“forever” — I have to spill this out.

Before, for many, many years, it would take almost a “lifetime” and at times almost ”forever” to get papers moving and done to get power plants installed and operational. That’s the culprit why we have lagged behind in providing adequate power up to today. There was so much red-tape (and yes, perhaps corruption) in that field.

I remember during my “civilian” days after Pres GMA, I was consultant of a power company trying to provide much-needed electricity to far-flung and remote areas in Mindanao not served by the national power grid (as part of my continuing advocacy even in the private sector).

Example is Balut Island, off Saranggani municipality (now of Davao Occidental province), a fishing hub straddling the nearby waters of Indonesia. An old rickety small-capacity generator was the only source of power but only for nighttime use. Fishermen had to travel long hours by boat to General Santos City to get the much-needed ice for their catch. So, I volunteered then to help a company set up a power plant there. We complied with all requirements. To make the story short, up to now, or for almost nine years now, the planned generating plant has not been installed principally due to the “forever” timeline of government agencies concerned.

Now under the new leadership at DOE and ERC, I am told things are moving quickly!
Wheeeww! What a relief!

A good note to greet one and all:
Happy Easter to All!

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